SWITZERLAND-INTERLAKEN (BRIENZ, LAUTERBRUNNEN, MURREN, GELMER VALLEY, MT. SHILTHORN
Switzerland – Interlaken (Brienz, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Gelmer Valley, Mt. Shilthorn)
The next morning we departed Bern to stay in Interlaken for 5 nights. Interlaken is a great base from which to take local day trips. The train ride there was around an hour, and it was beautiful. We stayed in an Airbnb called Swissness apartement1 ($167/night) that was very close to the train station and walking distance to town. This Airbnb has a living room with a comfortable sleeper/sofa, an upstairs with a comfy bed, and there is also a loft that you have to climb a ladder if you need another bed, but we did not use it. There is a great Thai restaurant next door and a crepe restaurant across the street. It is a 20-minute walk to the bus/train station or a 7-minute bus ride. There is a laundromat downstairs in the building that you can use, which really helped.
On a beautiful sunny day we decided to visit Brienz. It was a 20-minute train ride or a 1 hour and 20 minute ferry ride. Timing did not work out for the ferry so we hopped on the train (you have to love the Swiss Pass) and got off at the first Brienz stop. We then walked along the water, which was stunning. Along the way people were hanging along the water and swimming or paddle boarding in the water. The city even has chairs left out for visitors to use so we pulled out a couple of chairs and hung out along the water for a while under a shady tree. It was perfect. We then walked the remainder of the way to catch the ferry back. Our Swiss Pass covered the ferry. We had second-class tickets, but I discovered you could pay to upgrade to first class on the boat so we paid $10 extra for each of us and sat on the upper deck, which was lovely. They serve food and wine as well, so we enjoyed a Prosecco as we made our way back to Interlaken. When we returned we walked around the main area for a bit and then had dinner at Taverne Restaurant. We had a lovely table outside that is next to a Japanese Garden and waterfall. They offer a 3- or 4-course chef’s surprise dinner, and each course was beautifully presented, and the food tasted wonderful.
Our first morning in Interlaken was rainy so we switched our plans (having the Swiss Pass really helps with that) and decided to visit Lauterbrunnen, located in the Jungfrau region. It was a 20-minute train ride from Interlaken. Lauterbrunen has 72 waterfalls and is incredibly beautiful. We walked along a path to the Trummelbach Falls and along the way saw waterfalls, green pastures, goats, cows, and just pure beauty. Once we reached Trummelbach Falls, we paid the entrance fee to get in ($11/adult, $4 for kids). Once inside, you walk through the mountain to view the waterfall from all different levels and angles. It was so powerful. You can walk to the top or take a tunnel lift up to the top and then work your way down. Once we departed Trummelbach Falls, we continued our walk to the Stechelberg, where we took the cable car (free with Swiss Pass) to Murren, a cute little town. We walked through Murren for a little bit and then caught the train back down, and then the cableway to the train station. You can choose to walk the entire path we did, or take a bus to different locations. We walked over 7 miles so while it was exhausting, it was absolutely incredible.
Our next morning in Interlaken we departed early so that we could ride the Gelmer Funicular. This funicular is the steepest open air funicular in Europe with an inclination of up to 106 percent and takes you to the Gelmer Valley 1860 meters above sea level. You must make a reservation in advance with a set date and time and be sure to bring food and water, as they don’t sell food at the top of the mountain. Riding the funicular was incredible. The views are outstanding. It moves pretty slowly so it is not a scary experience at all, just an exhilarating one. Once you arrive at the top there are different hikes to explore. We did the one loop around the lake which took us around 2 hours. We had to climb rocks, cross waterfalls, walk along narrow ledges, and squeeze through rock tunnels. It truly was one of the most beautiful days: the water is so blue, and the scenery is amazing. If you arrive early, you can walk across the Handeck Suspension Bridge, which connects the Hotel Handeck to the bottom station of the Gelmer Funicular for a great view of the Handeck Waterfall. This was one of my favorite days in Switzerland.
The following morning we headed to Mt. Schilthorn. We had to take 1 train, 1 bus, and 4 cable cars to reach the top at 2,970 meters. On a clear day the view can be amazing; however, the morning we were there it was cloudy and rainy. There were a couple of moments when the clouds opened up and you could see the mountains, but I definitely did not see the views it is known for. They have a revolving restaurant at the top called 360 – Restaurant Piz Gloria, and we had brunch there. The food was just okay, but it was nice to sit inside and admire the view (even on a cloudy day). There is also a James Bond exhibit you can walk through, as well as other activities you can participate in. The cable ride to the top of the mountain and activities were free with our Swiss Pass. Otherwise it would have cost $105 per adult.
It turns out our Airbnb host owns an ATV company across the street from the apartment, so we went on a 3½ hour ATV ride through Interlaken. It was such a blast. We rode through the streets, highways, and mountains of Interlaken while admiring the picturesque views of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. We saw beautiful scenery, cows and goats, and beautiful Swiss homes while driving as fast as 75 km per hour. We stopped for brunch at a delightful small-town restaurant in the mountains where we ate fresh cheese and rösti, drank delicious Swiss hot chocolate, and even got to play with a herd of very friendly goats. It was the perfect day. The company is www.FunRental.ch, and they provide rain clothes, helmet, water, and breakfast. They teach you how to ride the ATV and then you are off and running for a fun-filled day. Roland, our guide, was very knowledgeable and made sure we were safe throughout the day. This adventure was a highlight of our trip for my daughter so I highly recommend it. Once we returned to the center of Interlaken, we took a 30-minute train ride to visit Thun. The old city is so cute. We also visited the castle, which was included with the Swiss Pass. We love boat rides so we took the ferry back, where we got to see the beautiful coastal towns of Spiez and Oberhofen. It was a 2-hour boat ride, and we really enjoyed it.